ORLANDO, Fla. — It was clear on Friday night that the Orlando Magic did not play a complete game, or even a good one at that. But it didn’t matter as they took down the Charlotte Bobcats 89-77 at the Amway Center.
The Magic’s (48-28) edge was never in jeopardy even though they allowed the Bobcats (32-43) to hang around for much of the game. As usual, Dwight Howard continued to work hard, like he has done the whole season.
While the rest of the team struggled to find their rhythm, Howard delivered patented numbers, which included 26 points, 14 rebounds and making 10-of-14 field goals. He scored eight points in the first quarter and added 11 in the third to give the Magic a 10-point lead heading into the final period.
There is always one thing that you can take away from these Orlando games, the fact that Howard plays hard every game, regardless of the opponent.
“We expected it and, quite honestly, we need it,” Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said. ”We absolutely need it. He stepped up and really carried us for most of the year, and that’s certainly what he did tonight.”
Van Gundy said it was nice to have nine players on the roster for the game. The only problem was that outside of Howard’s performance, the rest of the team shot 20 of 57 from the field for 35 percent.
Although Quentin Richardson scored 14 points in 33 minutes of action, he only made 3-of-11 shots, which included 2 for 6 from behind the 3-point line. Richardson helped his cause by going 6 for 8 from the free throw line and adding five rebounds.
The Magic did do some things right even if they played uninspired. They committed 12 turnovers, a number that is reasonable compared to their usual numbers. Orlando for their part shot well from the free throw line (20-of-24).
Consistency has been an issue and it has showed up at times when the Magic should be taking care of business against inferior competition. Orlando led Charlotte by as many as 18 points and even then the Bobcats stuck around without Stephen Jackson, who sat out with a left hamstring strain.
The season is nearly complete and it would not be a surprise if the Magic are already eyeing the playoffs with six games left on the schedule. Luckily for them, they know their fate, which is a return trip to the postseason. The squad is hoping to get its lineup fully healthy in time for the playoff push. Injuries have hurt this team recently.
After one qucik game at home, Orlando is quickly on the road Sunday in Toronto as they battle with the Raptors, before returning to Orlando Tuesday when they face the Milwaukee Bucks.